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The “Tuscarora” near Gibraltar, in chase of the Confederate cruisers The U. S. S. “Tuscarora” with other vessels during the latter half of 1861 was scouring the seas in search of the “Sumter” --the first of the Confederate cruisers to get to sea, eluding the blockading squadron at the mouth of the Mississippi, June 30, 1861. She was a 500-ton passenger steamer with a speed of but ten knots and had been declared unfit for naval service by a board of Confederate officers. Captain Raphael Semmes, upon seeing the report, said: “Give me that ship; I think I can make her answer the purpose.” Within a week after she got away, the “Sumter” had made eight prizes. On Nov. 23d Semmes cleverly eluded the “Iroquois,” then lying outside the harbor of St. Pierre, Martinique, and cruised to Gibraltar. There the “Sumter” was blockaded by the “Tuscarora,” the “Kearsarge” and the “Ino.” Semmes, seeing that escape was impossible, sold his vessel and disbanded her crew. Her prizes totalled fifteen, and Semmes was soon making another record for himself in the “Alabama.” The “Florida” was the first cruiser built for the Confederacy abroad. She was allowed to clear from Liverpool on March 22, 1862, under the name “Oreto.” On August 7th she began her career under Captain John Newland Maffit, with a crew of but twenty-two men. She had an adventurous career till she ran into the harbor of Bahia, Oct. 5, 1864, where she encountered a vessel of Wilke's flying squadron, the “Wachusett.” Commander Napoleon Collins, in violation of the neutrality laws, suddenly attacked the “Florida” and received her surrender.

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